“I wish grace and healing were more abracadabra kind of things. Also, that delicate silver bells would ring to announce grace’s arrival. But no, it’s clog and slog and scotch, on the floor, in the silence, in the dark.”
Anne Lamott, Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith

David's window

This week’s set of readings from the Revised Common Lectionary stir up in my memory this quote from Anne Lamott.

I am not sure which Biblical text I will preach from and so I am pondering all of them in my heart. I am usually drawn to Jeremiah, and even though he is predicting doom and gloom, he also hints toward the promise of God for a better tomorrow…if, only. If only we live as God desires, grace will lead our lives.

Okay, maybe not. There is very little evidence of hope in Jeremiah. sigh….there is however a lot of prophecy about the failure of the people and God deciding to let destruction happen. Winds and sandstorms ensue…where might one go with this text?

Maybe you are feeling called to speak from the Psalms, or Exodus..these too offer some heavy choices, that slog and clog kind of real life stuff, where grace is hard to find…but always there.

Or the Letter to Timothy, which points directly to grace…I rarely preach from the Epistle, but sometimes it is the text that calls to me. What about you? Is this text calling out to you today?

I’ll probably lean into the Gospel and talk about these parables and what it means to go looking for the one lost soul when there is a herd of sheep to tend too….(In the silence, in the dark, on the floor…).

And then there is the Genesis reading for all of you using the Narrative Lectionary this year. Oh, I love Genesis, so rich with stories of the humanity wrestling with God! We aren’t using NL so I won’t get to Genesis until next summer. Still, many of you are, so where is the text taking you this week?

So here we, another Preacher Party and the 11th hour is upon us! Much to do, much to do. Let’s do it together. Pull up a chair and grab a mug. I have plenty of tea and coffee, what’s your pleasure. Soon there will be virtual food aplenty as we always bring a great pot-luck of deliciousness to the party.  I’m glad you are here today and look forward to hosting this party.

95 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party:

  1. I’m preaching Luke and am focusing on turning the grumbling phrase of “this fellow eats with sinners” from a complaint into a celebration. It’s all in the inflection, right?
    If we can celebrate that he eats with us, then maybe we’ll have room to celebrate when he adds others to the table too. That’s the plan. Have a draft. Will let it sit overnight.
    Soccer in the morning and then my sweet baby boy turns 18 tomorrow, so lots of celebrating him!
    Blessings to you!

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    1. Indeed, all in the inflection – brilliant! And a call to celebrate. My kids turned 25 and 21 this year, I so remember, however their 18th…almost all grown up. Time flies in the blink of an eye. Have fun celebrating that too!

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  2. I’m trying to finish reading Kathleen M O’Connor’s book ‘Jeremiah: Pain and Promise’ so that I can fully grasp her take on Jeremiah before I attempt to preach it. She sees tomorrow’s passage from chapter 4 as war poetry seeking to integrate an experience of communal trauma. It’s extraordinary work: “To interpret disaster means to generate new ways of seeing the past and to create a language to speak about the unspeakable.” But somehow I’d also like to speak of the relief at being searched out like the lost sheep, coin and son. The last few gospel passages have been demanding of our response to the good news. This one is all divine initiative. Hoping the two can pull together… Blessings all.

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    1. Oh that sounds like a book I need to read. I do like, well like may not be the correct word, but I often choose to preach from Jeremiah when the opportunity arises and I so appreciate the insight of others that really pop open the text. Thanks for sharing that resource! And, also to your idea of divine initiative – sounds like an eye-opening approach to the readings that is so very relevant to our world today.

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  3. Good morning. Just finished breakfast – lots of hot tea to share and whole wheat toast.
    I managed to make a start on the sermon yesterday – preaching on the gospel – playing with the idea that we who gather in the sanctuary are the righteous yet we can know Gods rejoicing and that we are called to be seekers,working tirelessly to find the lost.
    For the children, I’m going to be using a baptism as a teaching moment – last weekend I was at my God daughters wedding- the promises we make, before God to children last a lifetime!
    But first I have soup to make and some marrow chutney to get going. It’s putting up the preserves time here.

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    1. Yes, fall is hinting of its arrival here too, although later in the week we may be back up in the 80’s…but for now it is fall-like. Sounds like you have a plan for developing your reflection on the text which will speak into and be inspiring for your people as they are consider the ways they are called to be seekers of the lost.

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  4. You know that feeling where you’ve written a pretty good sermon and it would totally preach and it even has some nicely honed phrases and the kinds of transitions that bridge personal and biblical narratives? And then you realise it isn’t the sermon that you want to preach to this congregation in the morning… That’s how it is at 7pm at my place… So I’m sitting down to see if the idea that’s rattling round in my head is going to turn into something preachable. The idea persisted through the dog walk and having ordered dinner for delivery in an hour my plan is to write with enthusiasm until then and see how it goes…

    Glad of your company…

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    1. Oh goodness, yes I do know that feeling. It is worth the effort to see if something will manifest itself, or if what is rattling inside is pointing toward a future sermon….at least you have one sermon ready to go if you need it (and sometimes those actually are the words people need to hear)….

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      1. I wrote 1800 words in just under an hour so it was definitely there waiting! Now dinner-ed up, I am going to see if it edits into something preachable

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  5. It’s morning. I’m up and drinking my first mug of coffee, a big one. Soon I will walk to the early morning yoga class and then when I return I will sequester myself in my home office and tackle this text. My wee efforts yesterday and last night were futile. In large part because my head was full of the presentation I was at yesterday by Margaret Farley and her reflection on Forgiving, Forgiven, and Justice…..works well with the texts but too much to absorb, process, and engage quickly….I suspect this is going to be a tough day simply because I have too much in my head and need to find a filter for it.

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  6. It’s a little after noon; and finally I am sitting down to think properly about tomorrow; I have been ill for three weeks, finally actually taking this week off… and decided not to get a sub for tomorrow. Midweek I chose the hymns and the gospel without really engaging my brain. So now I must begin.
    I have a kernel of an idea; askign the question: who are the lost sheep and who is in the fold? And – (and I think this is the imprtant/ squirmy/ difficult/ scary bit) if you are already in the fold does that make you less important – cos the shepherd left you to your own devices whilst he went out searching.

    I think it particularly struck a chord because we do expend an awful lot of energy on outreach and mission; and sometimes the ‘ordinary’ church members feel that they are less valued, less worthy. My chalenge to myself then is – who do I prioritise?
    This may be far too big a topic for me tomorrow; and I may even just nip through the archives to find something sustainable.
    and maybe – this is a topic for us as pastors, more than it is for our flocks?
    Just off to brew some red bush tea, and much some almond biscuits…

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  7. The coffee is going and next is 2 dogs out and a sermon. One of the challenges of the NL so far is that I have too much material to sort out into categories of: Thursday Bibble study, Sunday school, or sermon. Yes, the other way would be worse.

    No baseball game until late tonight under the lights so the morning is open for pondering and writing… And will all that fails I’ll get Martha to fix it. 🙂

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  8. I am not preaching tomorrow- it feels strange not to be wrestling with the Word & words – but just dropping by to wish all of those who are, Spirit inspired energy. I have fresh waffles, banana & maple syrup for anyone with the munchies….

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  9. One of the commentaries I read on the gospel proposed Jesus as what was lost, and the “sinners” as those who had found him/salvation. Since I am playing with the grammatical shift in the parables from passively being found to actively repenting, it is an interesting idea…

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  10. Isaac in the NL for me. I wrote about 3/4 yesterday but it is not cohesive at all. A hospital visit and a wedding (oh…what I would give for a wedding coordinator) and then back to tackle the sermon this evening.

    On the bright side…vacation starts at 1 p.m. tomorrow!

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  11. It’s been one of those weeks – meetings, meetings, Bible studies and more meetings – and now I’m at sermon writing time having done no sermon prep this week – zilch, nada. I did preach off the cuff at the nursing home worship on Thursday, using this Sunday’s texts, but that’s as much as I’ve managed. I’ve been immersed in the creation story with SS and confirmation both covering it, and I found the juxtaposition of God’s good creation, God’s passion for humanity, and the gospel/epistle readings to be thought provoking. What won’t God do to reconcile those created in God’s image, indeed to reconcile all of creation, making it once again ‘good’?

    My guys are gone for a college visit and won’t be back tonight, so I have all day to get something on paper. And all day to take care of the bountiful harvest of cucumbers, tomatoes and tomatillos we picked yesterday. And maybe sneak in a couple of visits – or at least phone calls – to some folks who had surgery this week (it’s been a week full of quickie gallbladder surgeries!).

    Think I’ll mosey over to working preacher, and then read FOTW – and then let it all simmer while I’m simmering veggies.

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  12. I have steel cut oats and coffee to offer. Am on the NL with Abraham and Isaac this week, and not a bit of inspiration yet. Struggling with yet another sinus infection. Boys are here, but DH is working very long hours as tax extensions are due Monday. Sigh. All that is to say, praying for inspiration today!

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  13. Julie, I had an interesting discussion with the pastor of our (new!) landlord church on just that topic. In his youth, he actually cared for sheep, and said he would have lost his job if he went looking for one sheep and left the others. Our discussion also brought to light how often we think of ourselves as the sheep that did not wander off, as one of the coins that was not lost–and yet, we all find ourselves lost at some point. He is also including the prodigal but I am not–those two are enough for me.

    And this is proving to be an unexpected bonus of the move–he and I have been able to have many conversations, not only on things like joint worship services, but theological and lectionary discussions. I am so enjoying that!

    I am going in the direction of community–that God’s community is not complete without everyone (sheep, coin) and it is not about the ones left behind (although that feels inherently unfair to our Western democratic eyes), but about God’s desire to bring everyone into community so that it will be complete. God is like the water on the Detroit River, where Windsor is located–the water takes no notice of whether it on the US side or Canadian–those are human labels. We cannot put God into a pigeonhole of our choosing; a God that would only seek the people we like would be a small God.
    Finally back online at home, and trying to get back into my routines after a busy summer and the church’s move! Also dealing with some family health issues–prayers appreciated!

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    1. Hi Windsor Martha, I live on the Detroit side of the river but recently took the Detroit River Cruise where we traverse into the Canadian portion of the water, as if there were a line marking the place of crossing over…Very interesting discussion you had, and helpful!

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    2. Oh, and I am planning to include a mention of the Birmingham church bombing–tomorrow is the 50th anniversary–and that God’s love forgives even the bombers, although our human hearts have a hard time with that–because God does not recognize the barriers of race, creed, nationality, etc., that we do, and every human being is equally precious. That part is going to be tough.

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    3. WIndsor Martha… thank you!! I think you may just have given me the thing to pull me out of the circular spiral I was stuck in!! Time to jump back in….

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  14. Again I am preaching to the internet again. It is Sept in N. Central TX and I can really feel the Jer. reading. There has been a bit of reduction in the heat but it will be 90+ again today. The dryness parches the soul. The dryness has been a part of my writing too. Perhaps I need to go looking for the lost to make Jer. make sense. Or perhaps I need to know what it means to be ‘found’. I think I have a sermon!

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  15. Terri… I don’t want to presume to tell you what to do under any circumstances. But when faced with what you are experiencing here are a couple of things I’ve found helpful.

    1. Get your body involved. Read the passage aloud while walking around a room (or if a nice day, somewhere safe outdoors). I don’t know why this helps, but i suspect it’s a right brain/ left brain shake up kind of thing.

    2. Start writing “This passage is completely uninspiring to me because…” and complete that thought. Why? Do you dislike it? is it boring? Have you preached it a dozen times before? Have you already written the perfect sermon on it? Someone else (Stephanie Boardman Anthony?) started her sermon prep (on Genesis 21-22) this week with a list of “I hates” about the passage. That might work too!

    I truly trust that the Spirit has your back, and I pray this dry time gives way to something wonderful flowing.

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    1. I started my work a similar way this week. I’m one of those Narrative Lectionary folks working with the Binding of Isaac. I wrote a list of “I hates” about this passage. It felt so. good.

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    2. Hey Pat, thank you!!! Yes, moving helps. Just starting helps. Sometimes leaving it for awhile helps. I think I have a solid draft now because I did what you suggest. And, I allowed what I was leaning toward – a dialogue sermon – to surface where I do a little teaching (connecting it to the weekday Bible study) and also ask questions so the congregation can raise up whatever they hear.

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  16. I haven’t been around on a Saturday in a long time, especially not during the day on a Saturday. I’ve been worried about this sermon (and still am in a way) on the Binding of Isaac. I’m getting less worried. I’ve had a lot more ideas start moving since I faced the things I hate about this passage. I plan to name them outloud in some way in my sermon and hopefully invite people into a place where they get to converse and even argue with Scripture in their own lives. I will move past the “I hates” though and accept what happens in the end of the story, even if I don’t like how it gets there. In the end God won’t let the sacrifice of a child happen. In the end we see God who desires life and won’t let the faith/obedience/belief of one person have precedence over the the life of another. I will start the sermon asking “Where is the God I thought I knew?” and end having found that God. In the Narrative Lectionary podcast they mention how the understanding of the name of the mountain “The Lord will provide” could also be translated “on the mount of the it will be provided” or “on the mountain of the Lord he shall be seen.” I’m going with the second. THERE is the God I thought I knew – – God who provides for life and desires the protection of those who are weak, being sacrificed, etc.

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  17. Good afternoon preachers!

    This is the first Saturday I’ve actually been home in what feels like ages–and at that I had a meeting at church with the wardens that took much of the morning. Wanting to get this sermon done and then go for a run…we’ll see.

    When I read over the lectionary choices earlier this week the first thing that jumped out at me was the contrast between Jeremiah and Luke–otoh, a God who is so frustrated with peoples’ bad choices that just walking away or sending desolation seems like the best option, and otoh, a God who through Jesus will go to any lengths to retrieve anyone who is lost. It’s an interesting juxtaposition, just not sure I can make it preach.

    The two weeks since I came home from vacation have been insanely busy with meeting. I crashed and burned with a migraine on Wednesday and skipped one, which was the right choice–at least I felt a whole lot better the next day. I am working hard to stay positive in a situation that is challenging. My leadership is feeling discouraged, and I spent a good portion of my meeting with the wardens trying to put a positive spin on things…but it is tough. Vestry meeting on Tuesday and hoping it will energize us, although I can never be sure how it will go.

    It is kind of chilly here today. Although we had a couple of HOT days earlier this week, it seems like the cool is coming fast this year, or maybe it’s just me…

    And now, must write!

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    1. Oh goodness, really difficult to be the parish leadership “cheer-leader” when all things are pointing toward chaos…no wonder you ended up with a migraine. I hope you get enough of the sermon done that you can go for a run, my long walk really helped me – I’m sure a run will help you too!

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  18. About two-thirds down–I can feel it winding up for the closing. I hope to get it done before I go out to visit friends for tea, then do a polish on it tonight before bed. After our discussion yesterday, I now want to hear what David (my colleague from the host church) says in his sermon–so I plan to be there for their service, which means I need to get everything done tonight.
    I have some raspberry cookies if anyone needs a bit to go with afternoon (here–maybe it’s bedtime where you are) tea? They are sugar-free and gluten-free but don’t taste like it!

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  19. Wedding message done and printed…check
    Sermon re-worked…check

    Chaos in the church as a wedding party has been here since 11:30 and the wedding is at four. That also means there have been 10-15 kids here all that time as well. I “know” there has to be a better way. Let’s just say…come vacation come!

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  20. I’m preaching at the shelter tomorrow–no manuscript so I have to do a lot of reflection and prayer to get to the place where I can weave their energy and insights into the reflection I’ve been doing.

    I’m coming at that Luke passage from the perspective of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the sinners at the table. Not preached from this place before but it is the place where I’m finding myself this week and, I believe, the place where those I serve often see and/or find themselves.

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    1. Oh revalli, this text seems like it might offer a very rich way into a reflection that will meet your people where they are. Have you read the commentaries from Feasting on the Word for this week? If not I’ll send you some of my notes that might be connecting points….

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      1. No–been quite a week. I’m just getting started. Have to finish my weekly letter, the report to the Vestry, and at least get a start on the tomato/bacon sauce from the Inspector Brunchetti cookbook first. Think I’m whining. Thanks for your encouragement.

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        1. offer still stands if you want my notes, although it is almost 9:30 here so I’ll be heading off to bed soon…I trust, however, that you are probably well into your sermon by now….

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          1. Thanks, Terri. Those notes probably would have helped. Didn’t get to the sermon until early this morning. I found the Working Preacher commentaries were a help but mostly the lostness in my own life and the lostness I know is there in the congregation in the shelter.

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  21. I’m not preaching tomorrow, which turns out to be a good thing. Hubby had a funeral yesterday and one Monday, so he’s super busy. I’m having a relaxing day with the girls–it’s amazing how much more fun they are when (a) they go to school during the week; and (b) I’m not preaching. We’ve gone for a ride in a horse-drawn cart, made waffles, and played. The three year old is in the midst of an epic nap, which does not bode well for bedtime. Even more reason to be relieved at a preaching break.

    Those of you who are experiencing a touch of fall, enjoy. It’s 100 degrees here.

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  22. So, 11 pounds of tomatillos have turned into roughly 10 quarts of salsa verde, which is simmering on the stove to reduce because I think it’s a bit too thin. I’m pretty sure I don’t have enough jars to can all of it and am wondering if it’s ok to chill and reheat the stuff you’re going to can – or if that would introduce bacteria. I just don’t know enough about canning. Maybe I’ll can what I can (hee-hee) and freeze the rest. Or there’s a couple of neighbors who might like some. We may be having green enchiladas later this week.

    And I’m not done yet – there’s tomatoes and cucumbers to process, and spaghetti squash to prepare for freezing. Some of it will just have to wait till tomorrow. The good news is that I’ll have helpers tomorrow, so I should be able to crank out what needs to be done pretty fast.

    It seems like a pretty good place to stop and write. I’m giving thanks for the harvest so far from my little garden and thanks for a job that allows me to be flexible enough to work around domestic chores (at least some of the time, that is!)

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  23. Once again, I find myself with a sermon that went in quite a different direction from what I imagined when I set out! http://somethingtostandon.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/lost-and-found.html
    It’s been a beautiful day here and, in addition to the sermon I feel I’ve achieved a lot today – some marinara sauce made for the freezer, some soup for tomorrow and two types of chutney made and put away for the church autumn Fayre. As well as a walk on the beach with the dog – we are promised stormy weather tomorrow!
    Want everything finished for service before I go to bed as we have our daughter’s 15th birthday to celebrate tomorrow and I’m anticipating an early start!

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  24. Just checking in–had a lovely lunch with RevGal Megan (some of you may remember her from the 2012 Big Event–one of the Lutherans with amazing dark hair and an aura of general fabulosity). Still riding high on last night’s ChicagoRevGal dinner too! Had a pretty darn good drumming class. Got ice cream. Have Maggiano’s eggplant parmesan for dinner (have some–it’s huge!). So I guess that means it’s time to turn my attention to poor Isaac (and poor Abraham and poor Sarah!). I have an idea that begins with the conversation we had at Thursdays On The Patio this week–about what makes scripture the word of the Lord while other books that tell a similar story are not. (ie, why the Bible and not the Chronicles of Narnia, or Harry Potter, or the Divine Comedy?) This is one of those stories that makes me want to move it into not-the-word-of-the-lord territory.

    But on the other hand, the text speaks to a reality we would rather ignore: that just as Abraham lived in a culture in which child sacrifice was relatively normal, so do we. Honestly. We have all kinds of gods around us that demand our children. (this may be where I work in comment on both Syria and the 50th anniversary of the church bombing, along with commentary on the violence in our city and the realities of poverty driving violence, etc.) And when we hear those voices, we acquiesce almost as quickly as Abraham did…but God offers another way to come into the promise.

    Or something. Not sure what I’m going to do with that angel’s commentary about “since you didn’t withhold even your son from me, I know you’re faithful…” nonsense. I wonder if I could just pretend that verse doesn’t exist??

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    1. So wish I had been in Chicago to join you at Maggianio’s….sounds like a good night of fun!

      When I first read this I thought you were going to talk about child sacrifice as in sex trafficking of children and something on the news this week (or was it last week?) about an on-line site where parents can off-load their children to a stranger for nothing, just get rid of the kid…God only knows where they end up. of course the other examples you raise are important too….just my mind went in a different direction…I must watch too much news. 🙂

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    1. I really like your re-telling of the stories.

      For some reason Blogger is not liking me using my wordpress url. It keeps coming up with (WordPress) after my url…which then is not publishable. Ideas anyone!

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      1. you probably need to log out of wordpress and log in with your gmail address. The two seem not to interface well. I find that I am constantly log in and out of wordpress, it’s kind of annoying…although less so now that I am getting the hang of what I need to do and my computer is beginning to remember all the log-ins…sigh.

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  25. Well preacher friends – It’s time for me to call it a night. It’s 10pm here and 5:30am rolls around quickly…keep the party going! And know that I will hold you each in my prayers. Thank you for partying with me.

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  26. I got home a little while ago after a long afternoon of football, friends, and few adult beverages. I’m very glad I spent time this morning putting a VERY detailed outline down on paper. It’s only 9:16 pm, way early for a RevGalNightOwl like me, but I’m feeling like maybe going to put my head down much earlier tonight than usual and getting up at 4 or 5 to write. For a sermon I’ve been nervous about, I’m feeling pretty confident about what will come out. I ran some of it by my best friend/football hostess/author/church member this evening and she thought it had a good start with my “I hates” about the binding of Isaac. I think a clear mind will be crucial to writing this one, but sleep is my best bet. Sleep and knowing my outline contains 20% of my sermon already!

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    1. Stephanie, I’ve been up for about an hour….thinking you are probably rising soon. i hope the evening rest and the morning quiet enable you to get this sermon written, easily!

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      1. I’m up. I slept until 5, but dilly-dallied around, so now I’m about ready to open up my document at 5:37. (I miss the time stamps on our comments.) Anyway. Getting to it. Really. Any minute. Here I go.

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        1. There are definitely a few things we will miss from Blogger, but don’t forget how frustrating it was to use with iPad/iPhone and other mobile devices. We made the move largely because of those complaints. I hope some of these technical adjustments will soon become second nature for all who are new to WordPress. For those who want easier commenting, I just signed in with Facebook as an experiment. It was very smooth. I think there were some other issues raised in the comments today. I will check back over them later today. Thanks for keeping us posted!

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          1. Oh definitely! The “pro” column is much much longer than the “con” column! And this con (really the only one I’ve experienced) is pretty much insignificant compared to the ability to use the blog on all our different platforms and devices.

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  27. I’ve got a great (I think) idea…and yet no words yet. *sigh*.
    I just wish I was one of those people who could write a good chunk and then come back and add a beginning that ties in…instead, I’m one of those people who has to have the perfect introduction, which I will labor over for HOURS, and then the rest flows.
    I know that it’s just another way of doing the same thing, and that I’d spend the same amount of time writing no matter which way I wrote….But it’s just frustrating having a blank screen for those hours.

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    1. Leanne, I’m the same way. With no beginning, I will stare at a screen for what seems like an eternity. A few weeks ago I still had a blank screen at 10pm…11pm…12am….it was horrible. Praying for you to find a way in that allows the Spirit’s words to come pouring out!

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      1. Glad to know that I’m not the only one. It’s flowing now, 800+ words and counting. Now just need to find a way to integrate the sermon title into what I’m doing in a way that seems natural. It’s at the heart of what I am saying, but it’s something that I’m going to have to explain and spell out.
        Thanks for your prayers…hope your writing is going well as well!

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  28. Good morning all! I spent some time this morning reading the rest of the sermons posted after I went to bed last night. You all have really offered me a fabulous feast of word and spirit! Wow. Well done! I will continue to hold each of you in my heart and prayers as we go forth this day and break open the word. Peace and blessings!

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